In South Africa, one of the prerequisites for being issued a firearm license is to have a safe installed in accordance with the SAPS gun safe requirements. When applying for a firearm license, a police officer will come to your house to inspect your safe to make sure it is adequate. So before installing a safe, make sure you are familiar with the SAPS gun safe requirements.
The SAPS requirements for a gun safe for a handgun specifies a safe with a wall at least 2.8mm thick, a door at least 5.75mm thick, at least two 20mm thick locking bolts spaced 500mm apart. A handgun safe should be mounted to a solid brick wall, concrete floor, or both, with two M10 x 80 bolts.
The SAPS requirement for a rifle safe is the same as above. The safe wall should be at least 2.8mm thick and the door at least 5.75mm thick. A rifle safe however requires three 20mm locking bolts no more than 500mm apart and should be mounted to a solid brick wall or concrete floor, or both, with four M10 x 80 anchor bolts.
How many bolts should I use to mount my gun safe?
According to the SAPS gun safe requirements, you should use a minimum of two M10 x 80 anchor bolts to mount a handgun safe and a minimum of four M10 x 80 anchor bolts to mount a rifle safe. However, it’s well worth using more bolts than the minimum.
For a handgun safe, even though only two bolts are acceptable according to the SAPS requirements, it is advisable to anchor the safe using four M10 x 80 anchor bolts.
For a rifle safe, four bolts will suffice, according to the SAPS gun safe requirements. However, I highly recommend that you mount your rifle safe using six M10 x 80 anchor bolts. A really good installation would have four bolts mounting the safe to the wall, and two bolts mounting the safe to the concrete floor.
How to mount a gun safe according to the SAPS gun safe requirements.
Your gun safe needs to be to spec and needs to be mounted to an immovable structure. You are required to store your firearm in this safe when it is not in your possession.
According to the SAPS guns safe requirements, any safe that is heavier than 300kg does not need to be mounted with anchor bolts. A safe weighing less than 300kg should be anchor bolted to a solid brick wall, ideally a double skin wall (two bricks thick). Most external walls in South African homes are double skin.
A handgun safe referred to as a type B1 safe, only requires two M10 x 80 anchor bolts, as per the SAPS gun safe requirements. However, as I mentioned before, many will agree that it is better to bump that up. For a more secure installation, mount the handgun safe to the brick wall as well as the concrete floor using four anchor bolts. You can get a similarly secure installation by bolting the safe to two adjacent walls using four anchor bolts.
The SAPS gun safe requirements specify that a rifle safe, referred to as a type b2 safe, only needs four anchor bolts to one solid surface, either a brick wall or concrete floor. For extra peace of mind, mount the rifle safe to the brick wall and concrete floor using six anchor bolts, four bolts to the wall, and two bolts to the concrete floor.
Avoid mounting a gun safe over the back panels of cupboards. Leaving a piece of wood between the safe and the wall will weaken the installation drastically. Remove any panels, wood floor, or carpet between the wall/concrete and the safe before installation.
MOUNTING A GUN SAFE TO HOLLOW BRICK WALLS
Avoid mounting a safe to a hollow brick wall unless you fill the hollow bricks with non-shrink grout or an epoxy/sand mix of 1 MPa strength. If you are mounting a handgun safe, consider bolting the safe directly to the concrete floor using two anchor bolts, with two additional anchor bolts to the wall. For rifle safes, consider bolting the safe to the floor in the horizontal position using four anchor bolts. This is not always possible if you have limited space and can be quite awkward to access, but it is your best bet if your walls are built with hollow bricks.
Where should I mount my gun safe?
The SAPS gun safe requirements do not specify where a gun safe should be mounted. Technically you may install the safe in any room in your home, but ideally, it should be in the most secure room in your house. Even better, the same room that you sleep in.
The safe should be concealed too. If you have an alarm, most burglars won’t have enough time to search the entire house for your gun safe. Knowing that armed response is likely on their way, they will grab what they can, and get out quick. The majority of people will mount their gun safe in their closets or in their bedroom cupboards.
Concealment is very important, but make sure that you can access the gun safe quickly in case of an emergency.
VEHICLE GUN SAFE
A firearm may be temporarily stored in a vehicle safe that is concealed and permanently mounted directly to the chassis of the vehicle, as long as that vehicle is equipped with an immobilizer, and the safe comes with an installation certificate stating the date of installation, installer details, vehicle registration number, engine, and chassis number and the make of the vehicle.
A vehicle safe should have the same specifications as a normal gun safe. A wall thickness of at least 2.8mm, a door thickness of at least 5.75mm, and two locking bolts spaced a maximum 500mm apart.
Having a gun safe installed is not only a SAPS requirement for firearm ownership but also a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. You are responsible for your firearm, and if it gets stolen, and the police can prove that your gun safe was not adequately fastened, you may be charged with negligence. Even if the police find that your gun safe was adequate, you’ll still be left without a firearm for the better part of a year while you wait for a new license – not to mention the cost of replacing your firearm.
Do not “cut corners” when installing your safe. If you are mounting your safe to a wall that is built out of hollow bricks, be sure to fill the holes with non-shrink grout or a sand and epoxy mix that is with a strength of at least 10MPa. There’s no harm in adding extra anchor bolts when installing your gun safe, and I would suggest you use four anchor bolts instead of the minimum of two for a handgun safe, and six anchor bolts for a rifle safe instead of the four bolts minimum.
Give a lot of thought to where in your home you are installing your safe. Sometimes, concealment can be just as important as the gun safe itself and adds an extra layer of protection against theft.